press release

Gego (1912-1994) is, without doubt and together with the Brazilians Lygia Clark and Mira Schendel, one of the most significant South-American artist of the second half of the twentieth century. The three started out under the influence on the one hand of the abstract and kinetic art that had predominated in Latin America since the nineteen-fifties and sixties and, on the other, of European-based constructivism, eventually arriving at their current aesthetic propositions, far removed from the modern myth.

Gego remains a relatively unknown figure in Europe, but the MACBA exhibition aims to rectify that situation by showing different facets of her artistic career through a selection of over 130 works encompassing the period from 1958 to 1988. The show, which will be anthological, will place special emphasis on the middle period of her production, represented by the “Reticuláreas” and the “Chorros”. Gego’s work constitutes an excellent example of abstract art’s evolution in Latin America and is presented today under the prism of new readings that emphasise notions developed by the artist herself. These focus on sculpture approached as a problem of tension and forces, the decisive role of corporal – not only visual – experience of the work and the interaction between spectator and artwork in one same space.

Born in Hamburg in 1912, Gego (Gertrud Goldschmidt) trained as an architect at the University of Stuttgart. She emigrated to Venezuela in 1939, where she began to work in the constructivist tendency with neo-plasticist inspiration. In a panorama dominated by the influence of kinetic and “concrete” art, Gego introduced her own unique style which explored the behaviour of the line in space, contrasting it with the optical illusion or fascination for mass and material that her contemporaries held. Composed fundamentally of lines and intersections, Gego’s sculptures organise and give movement to the space while defining and framing the void.

The exhibition now presented in the MACBA and shown last summer in the Serralves Museum in Porto begins with works from the fifties in which the artist’s dialogue with the material (welded metal) and her gradual evolution towards purification of the line in space may be clearly observed.

Between 1957 and 1971, Gego produced a series of drawings made up of systems of parallel lines, from which her first sculptures would evolve. In 1969 she created the first “Reticuláreas”, and what is regarded her most emblematic work, the “Reticulárea” conceived especially for the Museum of Fine Arts in Caracas, where it occupies an entire room. It consists of a huge network of lines suspended in space, constructed with wires wound around the ends so that they can be connected to one another or to several others at the same time. The piece converts the spectator into an actor whose perception is transformed into a multiple corporal experience.

The “Reticulárea” would progressively evolve in the shape of independent sculptures with references to an illusion of infinity, to an attempt at connectivity. Gego experimented with the problems of composition and the relationship of volumes in several series of drawings in which the line is expressed first in triangular shapes, which subsequently give way to more complex geometrical and organic forms.

From 1970-1971 Gego created the “Chorros”, in which the lines no longer constantly intersect but fall vertically in apparent chaos, introducing the image of the waterfall, of liquid and of movement suspended in time. The exhibition presents an exceptional collection of 13 recently restored “Chorros”, which have not been displayed since 1985. The almost mathematical order, harmony and precision previously shown in works by Gego are now transformed into chaos, contingency and entropy.

In the seventies, Gego once again investigated geometric shapes in the series known as “Troncos” and “Esferas”, with which she explored the continuity of her works through installations in groups of pieces in which her concerns for the formal structure of the object coexist with hitherto unknown formulations regarding their presence in space.

The vulnerability Gego introduced into her work in the late sixties enabled her to convert transparency into the driving force of sculpture. This paradox of the transparent structure – which places her above the art conventions of her time – is clearly reflected in the “Dibujos sin papel” (Drawings without Paper), which bring the exhibition to an end. Usually made from waste materials she found lying around her workshop, these “Dibujos sin papel” float on the wall and compose shapes that are once again either random or geometrically organised. The variety of their sizes and formal combinations bears witness to the dedication which, towards the end of her life, Gego continued conceding to assemblage, poor materials and formal experimentation.

Curators: Manuel Borja-Villel and Bartomeu Marí. Production: Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA).


only in german

Defying Structures
Produktion: Museu d´Art Contemporani, Barcelona; Museu Serralves
Kuratoren: Manuel Borja-Villel, Bartomeu Mari

27.07.06 - 12.10.06 Museu Serralves, Porto
08.11.06 - 14.01.07 Museu d´Art Contemporani, Barcelona